After a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, swimming activities in Kenya have resumed in earnest, with the aim of propelling the sport to international competitiveness.
The introduction of the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) in the country, has seen swimming included as a life skill subject, to be taught at all schools.
The Kenya Swimming Federation (KFS) – Kiambu Branch, has moved with speed to organize an age group swimming gala championship, that will run for two days from September 18th to 19th this year, at Regis School in Runda, Kiambu County.
The Federation noted that this is the first swimming gala after the effects of Covid-19 and its Executive Committee has ensured that all containment measures are observed during the event.
The KFS- Kiambu Branch Public Relations Officer (PRO), Nesmas Mbati said the gala was a spectator-free event and parents, who trust in the Federation and the schools, were not allowed to stay after dropping their children.
“As a young Federation specifically in this County, we have exceeded our expectation of the number of participants that signed up for the event, for either fun or competitiveness,” the PRO said.
He stated that the event was a foundation to the selection process of talented swimmers from the County to the national levels, adding that many swimming events have been scheduled to happen later on this year.
Mbati blamed the system used to qualify for international competitions through ranking, as the greatest challenge facing swimming as a sport in Kenya, saying that the system does not favour Kenyan swimmers, as they do not participate much in international swimming events as required.
“We have noted much enthusiasm in the participants. Unfortunately, public schools, which have the majority of the children population in the country, are very few,” he said, citing issues of financial complications and lack of resources as the cause.
He stressed on the Federation’s plan to introduce equal opportunities and level the playing field to all swimmers irrespective of their backgrounds, adding that the objective of the gala is to make swimming a competitive sport to every interested party in Kenya and place Kiambu County at the apex.
Mbati emphasized that the Federation will endeavor to ensure professional coaches are seconded to public schools too and also strive to engage various private and public stakeholders to develop standard swimming infrastructure in Kiambu County, that will serve the public at an affordable rate.
Mbati said that invitations will go out to all swimmers aged six (6) years and above while alluding to plans of empowering swimming coaches through conferences and seminars.
A swimming coach from the Federation, Margaret Wambui, said the event is basically a platform to scout talent while teaching the participants survival skills, that will be utilized in future competitions.
“As a Federation, we are urging the government and other sponsors to fund and support us as we organize these events to nurture young talents,” she said.
Young swimmers Faith Mugweru and Mwema Githengi, who are 10 and 13 years respectively, could not hide their joy as participants, with the ambition of one day winning international medals.
Mugweru, who is inspired by the former United States First Lady, Mitchell Obama, said she dreams to be the President of Kenya and advised parents to encourage their children, even if they have to visit free aquatic centers for training.